A Woman in Berlin: Eight Weeks in the Conquered City: A Diary by Anonymous
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book. Just wow. I don’t know what it is about WWII stories, but I love them, and this one is no exception. There are so many things that make this a must-read. It’s a side that we don’t always see when it comes to WWII literature – this diary takes place in Berlin, from the perspective of a German woman, as the Russians come in. It’s only been in recent years that we’ve really started to hear about the horrible things that happened in Germany, to Germans, because of the war. This gives the reader just one horrifying glimpse.
This book is by anonymous. This woman was having a hard time dealing with what she knew would be her fate and started to write it all down. She was some kind of journalist, or in publishing, before and must have found writing comforting. She chronicled her life as the Russian victors came in and took what they wanted – namely the beds of every female. It’s a story about survival. She chose one path to stay alive and she made note of the paths others took. She wrote about what went right and what went wrong, she wrote about being hungry, about not having light, about not being safe, about where life might go. This diary feels like it was written from the soul and it’s amazing that we can all now read it.
It’s not just about the occurrences of the days. It about some of the fascinating things she mentions. She hypothesizes on why the invaders rape, why they choose who they do, why they have to be drunk, how the community reacts to the rapes, how the ration cards can still be so organized – any number of things. She talks about grander ideas of war and masculinity –
“These days I keep noticing how my feelings toward men – and the feelings of all the other women – are changing. We feel sorry for them; they seem so miserable and powerless. The weaker sex. Deep down we women are experiencing a kind of collective disappointment… Among the many defeats at the end of this war is the defeat of the male sex.”
It’s just such a great, short, chronicle of a horrible time in history. Highly recommend for everyone, but especially anyone who is fascinated with WWII.